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Not All Insurrections Are Equal—For Enslaved Americans, It Was The Only Option

For most Americans, Jan. 6 was once an ordinary, ho-hum day.

That changed in 2021 when millions of television viewers watched thousands of Trump supporters assault the U.S. Capitol in their violent attempt to stop Joe Biden’s presidential victory.

Legislators fled for their lives as the mob shattered windows and vandalized congressional offices.

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While those images and subsequent congressional investigation and report are part of the collective memory, a debate still rages over what exactly to call what happened that day.

Was it a rally comprising American patriots, or, as many Republicans refer to the day’s events, “legitimate political discourse”?

Or was it an insurrection, as most observers have called the Jan. 6 attack?

Words Matter

As a professor who teaches rhetoric of social movements, I am well versed in concepts of protests, rebellions and insurrections.

In fact, Black Lives Matter and other movements focused on Black liberation and safety heavily influences my research on police brutality.

In an article published in the academic journal American Behavioral Scientist, my colleague Sharifa-Simon Roberts and I argue that any discussion about American insurrections must include the experiences of Black rebellions.

For centuries, insurrections were among the only tools enslaved people had for social change and, ultimately, freedom.

From Nat Turner’s insurrection in 1831, the story of which was developed into a movie, to the squelched insurrection in 1687 of a Black man named Sam who was owned by Richard Metcalfe, insurrections and rebellions have always been used by Black people who were enslaved in the U.S.

A visual of President Donald Trump is shown during the July 12, 2022, congressional hearings investigating the attack on the Capitol. Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post via Getty Images

In my view, what happened on Jan. 6, 2021, was a co-option of a Black liberation tactic that was used to remedy an injustice enshrined in the law.

But unlike Trump’s false claims of voter fraud, which were legally challenged and proved untrue, insurrections by enslaved people were based on a legitimate flaw in the U.S. Constitution—the denial of full citizenship based on skin color

Read original article by clicking here.

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